The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Getting consistent, miles to go

rgreenberg2000's picture

Getting consistent, miles to go

I began my current sourdough journey about three months ago, and, of course, it continues.  I've achieved a measure of consistency with my current process, though I know there are plenty of skills and techniques yet to master.  As of now, I'm producing loaves that I like with the dutch oven method, but still need to figure out a way to set up my oven to get similar crust results without the DO (hard to do many shapes other than boules in the dutch!!)  My attempts at batards and baguettes using a stone have not resulted in a crust that I like.  The last one (stone, no cover, water in a skillet under the stone for the first 10 minutes) had a VERY hard and tough crust, while the same recipe in the DO comes out crispy.  Any thoughts on why?  Other things to try?

Here's my current formulation (using 1-2-3):

150g starter (100% hydration)

300g water

450g Flour (usually 400 KABF, 50 WW)

11-14g salt

I mix without salt, let rest 20 minutes.  Mix in salt with some light kneading, then stretch/fold every 30 minutes for 1.5 hours.  Then into the fridge for an overnight proof that usually lasts 8-12 hours.  Out of the fridge, and formed into final shape.  Final rise at room temperature until dough passes the poke test.  Into oven pre-heated at 500 degrees for at least an hour, turning the oven down to 450.  In the DO, bread is cooked covered for first 25 minutes, then uncovered for 20 more (this is with a single 900g boule.)

Here's my latest (yes, scoring is on my list of skills to the meantime, the scissors work just fine!):

I'm happy with flavor, crumb, and texture.  Just want to get some ideas on busting out of the DO for some more creativity with shapes.

Oh, and I'll post up a crumb shot on this loaf when it's done cooling.  Thanks for looking, and for your ideas.


rgreenberg2000's picture

Man, do I love it when a plan comes together!! :)  Really liking the look of this one.


Close Up:

Hope y'all are having a great weekend......tomorrow is pizza night here.  Film at 11..... :)


aytab's picture

Gorgeous, simply Gorgeous!!!

dmsnyder's picture

That's a very pretty boule, and the crumb is spectacular! 

Was the loaf in the photos baked in the DO or on the stone? Were you happy with the crust?

Your formula looks fine, except the salt would be rather high if you use 14 g. That would be 2.7% percent salt. 11 g would be closer to the usual 2 %.

Your procedures also look fine, if I understand correctly that you are pre-heating your stone at 500 dF for an hour then baking a 900 g boule at 450 dF for 45 minutes. So, the only difference between the bakes which give you the crust you like and the crust that's "hard and tough" is how you humidify the boule's environment for the first part of the bake. Therefore, I would leave everything the same except how you steam your oven when baking on the stone.

I can't be certain, but, since the DO provides a ton of steam, I'd assume that you want to increase your steam generation. I would suggest you search TFL for "oven steaming." You will get lots of hits and many good discussions that should give you some ideas.

Another thought that may help: If it is a thin, crispy (not thick and crunchy) crust you want, switch from bread flour to AP. If you do, you may need to decrease the water a bit to keep the dough consistancy the same.  In general, I only use higher gluten flours for rye breads and enriched breads. Some who like super chewy crumb prefer BF or even high-gluten flour like KAF Sir Lancelot. I find, with good gluten development during mixing and stretch and folding, my lean hearth breads made with AP flour are plenty chewy.

Finally, in regard to scoring, you may find this helpful: Bread Scoring Tutorial (updated 1/2/2009). Also, there are some very good videos on (I particularly like the ones from Ciril Hitz) and on the KAF web site.

Hope this helps.

Happy Baking!


rgreenberg2000's picture

Thank you both for the compliments!

David, yes, that loaf was baked in the DO, and the crust was just what I want. The right mix of crisp, with a bit of chew.  I think you are dead on, and I need to play with how to generate the right level of steam when baking on the stone.  The skillet and water method isn't doing it for me, so time for some thorough research here at TFL. I'll try to keep the changes to a minimum so will stick with the KABF for now (just bought ten lbs anyway.) Once I get my steaming process down, I'll play around with what changes AP flour will bring me.

I'll keep working on the scoring, too.  Thanks for those links, and the input on the process.  Oh, and sometimes, I just like the higher salt level, though I usually use 11g, and not 14g. 



dabrownman's picture

Very nice crumb, crust and super airy.  It must have been light as a feather and singing a song when it came out of the oven.

rgreenberg2000's picture


Thank you kindly!  Looks like you and I got our starters going around the same time (mine wasborn on 1/25/12.)

I am really pleased with this loaf. Good lookin, and tasty!  :)